Why I don’t like sex in YA media

Hello Readers,

I like a steamy scene as much as the next person. One of my favourites is in Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. However, I shy away from them in young adult or new adult fiction.

*WARNING* I will be talking about underage sex, consent, violence, and rape.

There is a overarching moralistic trend in North American media to equate sex with violence. Look at the words we use to talk about sex. Body Count, Conquests, etc.

What this means for YA media is a massive quantity of negative portrayals of sex. The first book I remember reading that had sex in it was a french novel about a girl who runs away from home and gets raped and pregnant. It was pretty traumatic. One of the first movies I watched that I remember there being sex in it was Revenge of the Nerds and that’s rape where you’re supposed to cheer for the rapist. Those are just a few examples, but there are many more.

Now I try to remember books that I read that had a positive sexual experience and I can only think of one. (In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce)

The idea that sex is bad is really ingrained in us as a society. Some people who are very open and non-judgmental in other areas have trouble divorcing the learned negativity of sex.

You’ll hear things like “Can’t they stay kids?” and “Why are they rushing to grow up?” as if sex were a loss of innocence. It doesn’t have to be. Sex isn’t inherently traumatic.

Unfortunately, sex is often equated with violence because it can be used for violence. Sex can be used as a form of control over someone else and therefore can be a loss of control.

So when sex is explored in YA stories, I know we’re in for one of the big three; Rape, Pregnancy, or Infection.

What we need is more realistic but positive examples of joyful, consensual, and loving sex. It’s important for readers of all ages to see healthy concepts of sex and not just the traumatic.

Sex doesn’t have to be only about trauma, we need the cautionary tales, but we also need to safe and healthy role-models.

I don’t write sex in my YA for the simple reason that I have trouble writing the emotional truth of it. But I do encourage authors who can do it to please remember the power of having a good example. Sex positive is just as important as the morality tales and warnings.

I get that this is a loaded subject. Please be civil in the comments.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers – Book Launch

Family, Readers, Friends! Lend me your eyes…

We’re finally having a digital launch for Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. Join us Sunday December 4th, at 3PM EST for the launch of our book and a few other awesome ones.

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/395598352708307

Join us on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89836020683?pwd=YnVrRWIzUEFQTWlham9XMkpJZXFOZz09

Hope to see you there!

It’s the most wonderful book launch of the year!

Join us for an evening of pre-holiday fun as we celebrate the release of five extraordinary books! Hear some great readings, meet the authors (virtually) and get a chance to win some prizes!

**Please note this is a virtual event.**

ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION:
Automated live captioning will be available during the event. Should you have any other accessibility needs, please communicate with Renaissance via messenger.

About the books:

Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers by Jen and Éric Desmarais

When Kennedy saves Jason, the leader of a secret Community of supernatural people called Aetherborn, they embark on a whirlwind epic romance and adventure, where they’ll have to face teleporting assassins, grumpy wizards, gossiping hags, mafia robots, and secret military groups, all in the city of Westmeath, Ontario.

“I’m totally enjoying it! I’m hooked!” – Jennifer Bernard, author of The Fling and Smitten in Summer

Jen and Éric Desmarais have been helping each other with writing projects since 2006, and have been collaborating on business projects for several years under the name JenEric Designs. They live in Ottawa, Canada, with their two children and several thousand books.
Watch a trailer for the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhDZ3w6sYYk

Easter Pinkerton and the Case of the Heretic Blood by Evan May

The greatest constant in Easter Pinkerton’s life has been her duty to the realm: she knows its secrets, safeguards its interests, and kills its enemies. When her investigations unearth powers beyond her understanding, Pinkerton will have to fight enemies she could not have imagined, rely upon allies she would never have contemplated, and above all, decide where her duty truly lies.

“I was enthralled by every page.” Kate Heartfield, bestselling author of The Embroidered Book

Evan May is a writer and history professor who lives in Ottawa, Canada. His MA and PhD in medieval history largely focused on scamps and troublemakers in 15th century England, and he now also writes down the strange things that live in his head.

The Ground That Grows Roses by Elizabeth Hirst

More Singers have risen, and they’re about to unleash chaos.
Denny has put her father to rest, solved the mystery of the screamers and become a national hero. On the surface, she is living a dream, but her problems are far from over. In order to end the screamer crisis, she and Verity will need to find more singers to help calm the restless dead, but so far none have been found.

“Set in the post-climate change Canadian north, this adventure-thriller is a metaphoric journey of the mind and the heart into the soul’s search for home… A fulfilling read.” – Nina Munteanu, author of A Diary in the Age of Water and Water Is…

When she was a small child, Elizabeth Hirst’s school principal had to give her an award to get her to stop making books and focus on literally anything else. She has been described as cheeky, highly intractable, exceedingly stubborn and as Canadian as saying sorry.
Watch a trailer for volume 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpR4AYPOmAQ

Human by S.M. Carrière

At the behest of the vampiric Shadow Council, Aleksandar Svetoslav, Prince of his House, moves to America to re-establish their foothold there. Things spiral quickly out of control as Aleksandar is drawn into a cat and mouse game with a deranged kidnapper targeting those closest to him.

“Carrière has combined her keen historian’s mind and romantic soul in creating Aleksandar Svetoslav, a character who demands your attention and then takes you on a darkly compelling journey.” – Evan May, author of Easter Pinkerton and the Case of the Heretic Blood

When S.M. Carrière isn”t brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa, and cuddling her cat.

Nothing Without Us Too edited by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson

Multi-genre fiction where once again, we are the stars.
Nothing Without Us Too follows the theme of Nothing Without Us (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist), featuring more stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness.

“Disabled authors don’t just ‘fix’ disability in their stories—they go about fixing, as it were, the entire world.” – Amanda Leduc, author of Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space, and The Centaur’s Wife

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of humorous speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She also founded The Spoonie Authors Network. She lives in Kanata, Ontario.

Kohenet Talia C. Johnson is a multi-faceted woman who is transgender, autistic, Jewish, queer, and more than the sum of her parts. She also sits on the executive of A4A Ontario, an autistic-led self-advocacy group. She lives in Etobicoke, Ontario.
Watch a trailer for the first volume here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7HLM6Vk0Ec

Contributors Erin Rockfort, N. R. M. Roshak and Jen Desmarais will be reading from their stories!

Disenchanted – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Disenchanted.

Story

This is a fantastic take on an alternate reality/wish style story. While the first one’s emotion was all tied up in the conflict between “jaded” and “fairytale” love, this one is all about not being happy and finding your place.

Each character is treated to their own character arc and it’s solidly built. The story did feel like it had been developed as a TV show and then shrunk down into a movie and I think some of the emotion and story ideas could have been better served with a longer runtime.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The casting for Morgan was scary impressive. I had to double check that it wasn’t the same actress. Amy Adams made me, once again, wonder why we don’t see her in more musical roles. I also now want to see her play more villains.

The rest of the cast did an excellent job.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Extremely believable, I like that they leaned into the dissonance between the fairytale language and modern day.

I also really appreciated Amy Adams arguing with herself and the Gollum-style camera work.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery and camerawork felt smaller than the first one. The dance numbers smaller but more intricate. It’s a beautiful set and great acting, but shows they didn’t have the budget for massive set pieces.

They thankfully gave Idina Menzel something to sing in this one. I loved the music and I’m glad there was more of it.

Score: 1

Fun

There’s a certain melancholy in this one compared to the first, but it’s somehow more optimistic. Love isn’t a magical uncertain thing, it’s a certainty and the characters never seem to doubt it.

The entire family was glued to the screen and enjoyed it.

Score: 1

Overall

There’s a grandness missing compared to the first, but it still has all the heart, warmth, and magic. The music is excellent and Amy Adams is a fantastic villain.

This was a joyful addition to the first movie and was just as enchanting.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Health Update end of November

Hello Friends and Readers,

As you’ve read, I’ve had a few health issues of late. Long story short, I have some sort of injury to my arms. It’s been painful and limiting since June.

To catch up, here’s my first health update,  here’s my second health update,  here’s the one from Septemberhere’s the update from October, and here’s the update for early November.

My doctor finally sent my files to WSIB. (Suspiciously after Jen had a talk with him during Dragon’s physical appointment.) That’s the good news.

Back in 2020 or 2019 I went to see the doctor about my hands hurting. They ache when the weather changes and it’s anoying and hurts, but wasn’t getting worse with use. (Thankfully, since I wrote 4 novels and finished one afterwards) He did some x-rays and couldn’t find anything wrong, so he sent me to physio. I got the referral in early 2020 and when the pandemic hit, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

That’s all in my medical history and someone or something flagged it as needing to be assessed with WSIB. So they need to decide if the pain in my hands is the same thing as the pain in my arms.

WSIB rules say that workplace injuries have to be declared within 6 months. In other words, if they decide this is the same thing, they’re cutting me loose and saying good luck.

Assuming everything goes well, it’ll be a week for them to decide it’s a different injury and then another week to decide if I get sent to their clinic.

Best case scenario, I’ll get to see a WSIB doctor in the new year… worst case I need to go through my family doctor and we’re talking 6-18 months to see a neurologist.

My pain is averaging a 7 or 8 most days and the tingling and numbness in my arms has spread to the shoulders. On my left side, it’s affecting my face. It feels like the muscle has fallen asleep.

The hardest part is at night. With painkillers and voltaren, I still wake up every 20-30 minutes because of the pain.

I’m tired, I’m in pain, and it’s getting worse every week. I’m not sure how much longer I can go at this pace, but I’m trying my best to cooperate with WSIB in hopes that I can see a doctor soon.

I’m feeling really defeated…

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 11 (Serial Story)


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 11: Planting trees and travelling the realms

“Be warned,” Randi said as she handed Titania the rainbow glass ring. “Anyone who succeeds in freeing him will take his place.”

Oberon, Titania, Randi and I stood in an offshoot of the Maze Between the Worlds, a creation of Merlin’s that would allow anyone with the will to travel between Everworld, Earth, Fay, and someday Albion.

In the small dead end was an angry tree that used to be Melchior. 

“Maybe someday he’ll have learned his lesson and deserve a return to Fay life.” Titania sounded hopeful.

“What do we do now?” asked Oberon.

I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I replied by saying, “Randi has taught you the ritual to strip powers called the Mireinio. It will turn our children into regular Fay, or if they’re half human, they can choose human. We must each agree to do so by their tenth birthday.”

They all nodded except Oberon who added, “I meant about the rings?”

Randi replied this time, “We keep them secret and safe. No one needs to know.”

“We know. What if one of us gets power hungry and decides to conquer?” Oberon looked at Randi suspiciously.

It took all my self control to not burst into laughter. 

Randi’s brow furrowed but her eyes were filled with the most delightful mischief as she replied, “I swear on Fay itself that I will never try to conquer, coerce, or capture any of the four Fay rings of power of which I have no claim.” Swearing on a Fay is binding, the realm itself would ensure she kept her promise.

Titania and Oberon stood mouths agape, even Melchior the tree was quiet. I repeated the oath myself with ease; I didn’t want to be a king, god, or leader.

It took them a long time, but eventually my siblings followed suit.

“We must help clean up the mess our son created. Fay still needs leadership,” Titania said and looked at me expectantly.

“I think I’d be more interested in visiting Earth and establishing ties with Everworld.”

“Fine. Someday you’ll need to grow up and take responsibility for our world.” 

That was the last time I saw or spoke to my siblings. They went on to rule Fay for generations, setting the framework for the nine kingdoms and then they disappeared. No one can tell me where they went or what happened. One day, they got up and rode into the Deep Realms and never returned.

I took Randi’s hand and she smiled at me sadly. “I can’t travel with you this time.” When I looked confused, she said, “I have to return to the fissure in the Deep Realms and sew it closed.”

“I can go with you,” I offered.

“You are the Guardian of Imagination and one of the original Fay. Your magic wouldn’t work and would disrupt what I need to do.” I knew she was right, her magic was of pure chaos with the flavour of nature. She was the wind that changed, I was the story explaining where the wind came from. My presence would distract and undermine hers as she closed the fissure between our universe and the other.

She was gone that first time for fifty years as I travelled the Earth and met its people. Humans have such capacity for stories and imagination that I found myself falling in love. I never acted on it and I confessed the second night of her return. She laughed at me.

“Of course you love the humans. They are chaos, imagination, and stories all wrapped into flesh. The Fay reflect an aspect of your power, they are your children, but they are too much the same.”

“You don’t resent it?” I asked, surprised.

“Do you still love me beyond all others?”

I answered without hesitation, “Yes!”

“Then don’t worry. Love, but remember Mireinio.” We conceived our first children together that night on top of mount Olympus.

Over the years, I met and loved many humans. I was father, and mother, to more children than I could count. 

It was after I’d left my friend William with a great idea for a play that Randi and I decided Titania was right.

My children and descendants were many and I was tired of not giving them a place to live. Travelling between Earth and Everworld was great, but I needed a home.

My brother and sister’s disappearance had destabilised the Fay kingdoms and from that strife had risen powerful leaders whose magic was more than a regular Fay. They rose to power on their strength and ruled.

Just because they had power didn’t mean they were good rulers and I chose the cruellest lord and settled into his kingdom. I made myself a nice home and with my children. I had a wonderful household. It had been long enough since I’d been back and my siblings disappeared that we’d faded into myth. So much so that it had become a trend to name themselves after one of us. 

It wasn’t long before the Fay lord became angry at my prosperity and declared me an enemy. I made it clear that I would pay fair wages and protection to any that would join me.

The lord found himself with a dozen loyal courtiers and a few soldiers while I took over his kingdom.

The kingdom thrived, as did Fay herself. That’s when I discovered that while I was gone, plagues, pestilence, and marauding creatures from the Goblin Markets had enveloped Fay. It had become a dark and dangerous place. 

The longer I stayed, the better the Realm became, as if my presence was its fuel. That’s when I vowed never to leave Fay again, and I wish I could have kept that vow.

Read Chapter 12 (December 2022)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Enola Holmes 2 – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Enola Holmes 2.

Story

With less set up needed then the first one (Enola Homes Movie Review), there’s more room for the story, characters, and world to breathe and grow.

I liked the mystery and all its twists and turns.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are consistant with the first movie and mostly keep the same cast. There’s no Mycroft, but that’s a good thing, letting Sherlock and Enola grow as siblings. I have to say that I adore this version of Sherlock. He’s warm, kind, but still jaded, manic, and brilliant.

Enola is clever, charismatic, and soooooo young. It’s great to see that the writers didn’t just copy-paste a younger Sherlock.

At first I was a little annoyed at the inclusion of Moriarty, but it was done so well and acted amazingly.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is witty, quick, and loaded with multiple meanings and references.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Everything is bigger in this one, the fights are more dramatic, the dancing more impressive, and the camera work is excellent.

The music was extremely well-placed and beautiful.

Score: 1

Fun

I love both action and mystery when they are well done and this was extremely well done. Lots of twists and turns, lots of great characters, and some great historical elements.

Score: 1

Overall

Surpassing the first by virtue of wasting less time on setup and more on the actual mysteries. Henry Cavill is a splendid broody Holmes and Millie Bobby Brown is both believable and delightful in the role. If you enjoy a good mystery and can enjoy a new Sherlock, this is a great choice.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.